Future not looking foul
PARK TO HELP BREED ENDANGERED MALLEEFOWL
ONE OF OUR GOALS IS TO EVENTUALLY BE IN A POSITION TO RELEASE MALLEEFOWL BACK INTO THE WILD. — LACHLAN GORDON
To spearhead a revitalised breeding program, Kyabram Fauna Park has recently welcomed five male Malleefowl into its family.
Park general manager Lachlan Gordon said the five Malleefowl would join a female that came to the park in July from Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, with the park anticipating the arrival of additional females from Zoos South Australia later this year.
‘‘Our regional breeding program has been dormant for several years and the plan for the park is to reinvigorate the breeding program and lead the way with a couple of other facilities this year, with the aim of eventually helping to boost wild populations of these unique birds,’’ he said.
‘‘One of our goals is to eventually be in a position to release Malleefowl back into the wild.’’
The fauna park will work with the Victorian Malleefowl Recovery Group, the National Malleefowl Recovery Team, the Zoo and Aquarium Association and BirdLife Australia on the breeding program.
‘‘We’re aiming to work with industry experts and other captive facilities to contribute to a successful breeding program — and we are well placed to do that right here in Kyabram,’’ Mr Gordon said.
‘‘There are known and established populations of Malleefowl in The Little Desert National Park, which is only three-and-a-half hours away from the park.’’
The new Malleefowl have come from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, NSW.
‘‘It is important to maintain genetic diversity when beginning a breeding program of this kind; cooperation and co-ordination between a variety of zoological institutions is imperative to achieve this,’’ Mr Gordon said.
Now endangered in Victoria, the Malleefowl were once widespread in Mallee shrublands in north-west and central Victoria, even extending as far south as the Brisbane Ranges and Melton near Melbourne.
Threats to the Malleefowl include climate change, habitat loss and resultant competition from other grazing wildlife, fire and predators such as the red fox.
Aside from breeding and reintroducing Malleefowl back into the wild, Mr Gordon said he hoped to also provide research opportunities for studying the species’ behaviour in captivity and educating guests on the importance of their conservation.
‘‘The Malleefowl is just one of three Australian species of mound builder and the only species that makes its home in dry, inland scrub, which makes breeding really interesting and completely different from any other Australian bird,’’ he said.
‘‘As a megapode, the Malleefowl uses its feet to build enormous eggincubating mounds and then they leave their eggs to be incubated in sand or soil heated by the sun or mounds of rotting leaves.’’
Megapode refers to large powerful feet.